Woman with hearing loss holding her hand to her ear

Hearing loss is strictly an issue for older people, right?

Not exactly. While it’s true that your odds of acquiring hearing loss increase as you age, you can, in truth, develop hearing loss at any age.

According to the NIDCD, 26 million Americans age 20 to 69 have high-frequency hearing loss from direct exposure to loud noise at work and during leisure activities. And that includes 1 in 14 generation Xers, age 29-40, who already have hearing loss.

Seeing as hearing loss can hit at any age, it’s important to understand the signs as they’re typically subtle and difficult to notice.

The following are 8 silent signs of hearing loss that should prompt you to get a hearing test.

1. Ringing in the ears

Have you ever returned home from a booming live performance and observed a ringing or humming in your ears?

If that’s the case, that means you’ve harmed the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only transpired a couple of times, the damage is probably temporary and insignificant. But continual exposure or one-time exposure to very loud sounds could produce irreparable damage and hearing loss.

If you continue to hear ringing in your ears, you should book a hearing test as this is one of the first signs of hearing damage. And if skipping future concerts is not an option for you, your hearing professional can help you prevent further injury with custom-made earplugs.

2. Balance problems

Your hearing and balance are intricately linked. In fact, a major part of your ability to stay balanced is the result of elaborate structures within the inner ear.

If you find that you’ve been more clumsy as of late, the issue may actually be with your ears. In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins University found that those with hearing loss were three times more likely to have a history of falling.

3. Memory impairment

Your short-term or working memory is very limited, able to cope with only a few items for a short time frame. That indicates you don’t have time to get caught up on missed words during fast moving conversations.

With hearing loss, speech comprehension is compromised as you can completely miss or misinterpret the speaker’s words or message. This manifests later when you can’t recall important information.

4. Painful sounds

When you lose your hearing, you may become excessively sensitive to specific sounds, to the point where they become painful.

The technical term for this is hyperacusis, and you’ll want to consult with a hearing professional if the issue persists or becomes intolerable.

5. Listening exhaustion

Imagine spending the day trying to decipher meaning from half-heard words and sentences and replying to questions you didn’t fully hear. That amount of attention can wear you out fast.

If you discover that you’re excessively exhausted at the end of the day, hearing loss may be to blame.

6. Trouble hearing in groups

Early stage hearing loss usually doesn’t present itself during one-on-one conversations or in tranquil settings. Most often, hearing loss only becomes an issue in the presence of background noise or in group situations.

7. Not hearing alarms or calls

Hearing loss is usually tough to notice or detect as it develops little by little every year. In many cases, friends and family members will notice the hearing loss before the person suffering from it does.

However, there are some warning signs you can watch for, such as the inability to hear alarms or calls, the doorbell, or the TV at normal volume.

8. Trouble hearing movie dialogue

With hearing loss, you may have particular problems hearing the conversations in tv shows and movies. That’s because the majority of cases of hearing loss affect high-frequency sounds to the greatest degree, and speech is a high-frequency sound.

It’s never too early to look after your hearing health. If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, schedule a consultation with your local hearing professional.

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